Monday, August 15, 2011

MFC Tournament, Wilson Lake@Night, August 12th 2011

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Another night tournament on another lake I had never fished. I was excited, and nothing is worse than being at work on a Friday and WAITING for 4pm. The hours seemed to drag and drag. I would check my stuff, recheck, retie, rethink. But the hour finally came and I headed to Josh's house to pick he and the Bullet up. I gotta say, nothing is as sexy as a freshly washed Yukon Denali and a freshly washed Bullet behind it.

We didn't have much of a game plan. TVA wasn't going to be pulling current, the water was fairly stable despite all of the rain earlier in the week. I believe they were pulling between 16-20,000 cubic feet a second. Pretty low amount.  The only thing that really stuck out to us was Shoals Creek. So, we had planned on hitting that first. As we pulled into the ramp, I started hearing a loud grinding noise from the rear of the Denali. I knew what it was immediately. The brake pad was eating the rotor. Great. We were a long way from home to be worried about that. To sum it up, I ended up having to replace the rotor and pad at 7am the next morning, after getting home at 445am so we could go to Auburn's Fan Day.

So, anyway, we dropped the boat in the water, while noticing that another tournament was fishing up. There were two Bullets in the parking lot, including a purple and white one, which was gorgeous. Sorry for the So, as the MFC boats readied for blastoff, a fellow member who was a few feet away in his boat yelled that Josh and I might want to move, as he was heading downriver and to the right. He didn't want to swamp us or hinder us by crossing in front. I chuckled and said: "That's ok, so are we." There was this hilarious moment of realization when he realized we were going where he was going, and we did the same. The light hearted smiles went away, Life jackets were strapped up, hat bills turned around backwards, and "OS" handles grabbed. (If you have to ask what that means.... well, don't ask).

so, the acting tourney director waved us and we both punched it. Now, Josh's boat is a fast boat. Don't get me wrong, but he has the wrong prop for top speed on it, we were loaded down, and he has his engine detuned to increase it's life. Regardless, it will still do around 80. The other club member was in a Ranger than could do 70s. Just for a second, it looked like it was going to be a race. But Josh trimmed it up and we were gone...though not quite far enough.

But, we were so giddy from actually using the boat as it was intended that we bypassed our first stop! We fished one cove down from Shoals Creek and after 15 minutes, we headed back.

 We bypassed the main creek point, electing to come back later. We crossed under the Florence BLVD bridge, fishing as we went. Nothing yet.
The first place we really did something was right past the bridge at this old boat ramp. The ramp was in complete disrepair. Even though we were 20 yards from the shore, the water was 45 feet deep, but jumped to 18 feet. I was throwing a Strike King 6XD in Tennessee shad. I wanted to throw this as the water was still dingy and I wanted the fish to see it, plus, it still had natural colors.

The problem was, I was hanging up in the shallows. A lot. There were big rocks submerged in 6-12 feet of water. It's just part of the game. The new Lew's Speed Spool 5.4:1 ratio bait caster allowed me to burn it down to depth, then crawl it along those rocks. Sometimes you hit those rocks and glanced off, sometimes you stuck. Usually every other cast. So, Josh had a full time job of trolling me to unstick me. As we pulled up close to the spot, I popped the line and the lure came free. A fish CRUSHED it. BAM! We didn't even have time to get the net. I swung him over and we had a NICE fish!

We fished a few more casts there, then moved down to the next secondary point.

We fished around the upstream section and then down into the slough. Josh had a hit on a shaky head, and broke it off as the fish scrubbed it across a log. The fish jumped two, three, four times trying to throw out the hook. It was so close that I could have caught him in the air. I had a set of weak hits on the Lucky Craft Sammy. we fished the down river section and started out of the pocket. I made a cast across the extended point. Again, 18 feet or so with chunk rocks. This time I was more careful to weave the crank in and out of the rocks. I stuck a rock, let it float up a little bit, and then burned the bait. This is a tactic to mimic a bait fish who discovers a bass lurking behind a rock and speeds away, triggering a reaction. Bam. Smash. The fish was on. Josh netted it, and we had another SOLID 3 pounder.

Oh, and before I go further...houses on Wilson. Wow. Apparently there is money over in Florence!

We fished another couple of casts, and I broke off a 6XD. This was the way of things. I would catch a fish on this pattern of fishing the submerged structure, but I would lose a bait for every fish I caught. As I retied, Josh trolled us to the next secondary point. Same song. Different verse. a 3rd NICE fish caught on a 6XD.

And just like that, we had what we figured was 9 pounds. Then the sun went down. Just like on Pickwick, the little bite we had found disappeared. We swapped tactics a few times. We ran all over the lake. And I mean, dam to dam. Nothing.

By 10pm, I had given up on anything but a black spinnerbait. I tied on a Strike King Midnight Special

To make a long story short, I caught a fish pretty early on the spinner bait, but it was a small mouth, which have a larger limit size at 14 inches. Largemouth are 12 inches, and while it was clearly 13 inches, we had to throw it back. Dang. A few hours later, I bagged another largemouth which did measure. Both of these fish were caught by lifting the spinnerbait, letting it flutter down, and dragging it.

We desperately tried to catch a 5th fish. We knew we would have it sewn up if we could just find a scrapper! To no avail. We motored in.

As we were running in, we noticed just how many pleasure craft were STILL out partying at 2am! We passed one in particular which appeared to be a party barge of girls who were singing K$sha. All you could hear was:
"This place about to bloww oww oww ow ow owwwwww" AHAHA!

As we motored up to the dock, I spotted a dead fish. Then another. Then another. There must have been 2 DOZEN dead fish! Even some NICE ones! Don't get me wrong. I have killed some fish. I killed one that nigh...but I did my best, and it was the only one in the club!

End rant. So, we weighed in. Didn't win, but we took 2nd with 11 pounds even, losing by a few ounces despite only weighing in 4 fish. It was a blast. I really like that lake!